THURSDAY, April 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking Americans who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their blood plasma to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Called convalescent plasma, it has antibodies to the new coronavirus and could be used to make treatments for severely ill COVID-19 patients, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn explained.
“Prior experience with respiratory viruses and limited data that have emerged from China suggest that convalescent plasma has the potential to lessen the severity or shorten the length of illness caused by COVID-19,” Hahn said in an agency news release.
“It is important that we evaluate this potential therapy in the context of clinical trials, through expanded access, as well as facilitate emergency access for individual patients, as appropriate,” Hahn added.
The FDA recently outlined its efforts to work with partners in government, academic centers and industry to develop and provide patients with convalescent plasma products.
“More than 1,040 sites and 950 physician investigators nationwide have signed on to participate in the Mayo Clinic-led expanded access protocol,” Hahn said.
“A number of clinical trials are also taking place to evaluate the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma and the FDA has granted numerous single patient emergency investigational new drug applications as well,” he added.
But the effort depends on getting recovered COVID-19 patients to donate plasma, Hahn emphasized.
He said the FDA has a webpage to “guide recovered COVID-19 patients to local blood or plasma collection centers to discuss their eligibility and potentially schedule an appointment to donate.”
The American Red Cross has also set up a website for interested donors, and the FDA is working with other groups to encourage donations.
People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks can contact their local blood or plasma collection center to schedule an appointment.
“During this challenging time, many people are asking what they can do to contribute to the COVID-19 response. Those individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 could have an immediate impact in helping others who are severely ill,” Hahn said. “In fact, one donation has the potential to help up to four patients.”
— Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, April 16, 2020